Mother Leads by Example in Hurricane Relief Effort
Melissa Schroeder, a full-time attorney and mother of three in Shawnee, is used to a high-energy lifestyle, but of late she has been up to her ears in piles of diapers—diapers for a good cause.
As the mom in charge of Help from the Heartland, Melissa and her family have been all over the Kansa City metro in the past few months spreading the word and collecting diaper donations that have expanded into many tons.
“After Hurricane Harvey, my children (ages 8, 12, and 14) were begging me to rent a boat to take them to help the hurricane victims in Houston,” Melissa says.
As an educated, intelligent professional in a fact-driven occupation, she could see the obstacles. But with the childlike faith of her youngest, Grant, she chose to see the opportunities. Melissa decided to lead by example and do something tangible to bring real help. After discovering that relief agencies don’t provide diapers and wipes to victims of hurricanes, Melissa says she knew this was her answer.
“It’s so specific and is an easy thing for kids to wrap their brains around,” she says. “Kids understand diapers.”
Melissa said her kids got their friends involved and then some schools, sports teams, police and fire departments, and the diapers kept coming. She says after the first donation, the group had planned to use a trailer, but the three tons of diapers was over the weight limit. Melissa says within minutes, 17 kids unloaded the diapers and wipes and reloaded them into a U-Haul where the donations were delivered to Texas.
Then another hurricane hit. And another. After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Grant told Melissa, “We’re not done yet, Mom.”
Grant has been leading the charge with his friends and several local police departments. This future police officer dresses in his own uniform and is treated by the officers as one of the blue family. In October, Grant was featured on KMBC 9 News for his service to his community and his big-hearted efforts.
Since then, Melissa says FEMA has requested additional supplies to meet the needs in Puerto Rico, so besides diapers and wipes, the donations will also include water, paper towels and toilet paper. To date, Help from the Heartland has collected enough donations to require sending in a C130 airplane to transport 15 pallets of diapers and wipes, plus three 53-foot tractor-trailers filled with the additional donations.
“Dozens and dozens of local businesses and individuals have sponsored pallets at our request to make this happen,” Melissa says. “We are all just doing what we are supposed to be doing: helping our neighbors. I am hopeful our story will inspire children and adults. Together we are strong.”
Melissa believes the overwhelming response to bring hope and goodness to relieve suffering is proof that the people of KC are more than ready to give. They just need someone to drive.